Pregnancy related back, hip and pelvic girdle pain are all very common. While it is common it shouldn’t always be accepted as a normal part of pregnancy – however most people say that you just need to put up with it, we’re sure you’ve heard that before…
We’ve got good news, you don’t! There is something you can do about that nagging back ache.
When back pain affects your every-day life and stops you from doing the things you love, that’s when you have to say “enough is enough!”. Pregnancy is a time to enjoy the wonderful changes your body is going through, not dread each day more than the last.
To help make your pregnancy as pleasant and comfortable as possible, it’s best for your lower back pain to be addressed and managed throughout the duration of pregnancy. It’s time to feel GOOD, you deserve it and that’s where we come in.
Are you experiencing back pain during pregnancy? Where is the pain?
Low back pain is usually pain between the ribs and the top of the buttocks. It then may cause pain to radiate down into your groin, down your legs, and even further into your feet. Back pain is a little bit different compared to pregnancy related pelvic pain and this can occur separately or together with low back pain. This pain may be more located towards your lower spine or can be located at the front of your pelvis and you will feel this on the bony prominence.
When does lower back pain in pregnancy happen?
The most common time for lower back pain to occur is between 14-30 weeks gestation and occurs in approximately 60% of the pregnant population. Some pregnant women may start to experience lower back pain as early as 8-12 weeks, the cause of this is typically related to increase in hormones and stress opposed to physical attributes.
Why does lower back pain during pregnancy happen?
Your body will go through the biggest physiological changes throughout pregnancy. Such as changes in heart and lung function, and the production of so many hormones, you’d lose track counting. No two pregnancies are alike but sometimes there is common reasons for back and hip pain throughout this time. Your hormonal changes throughout pregnancy is one cause, unfortunately we cannot change this. Secondly, with the growing foetus, your posture changes, your weight distribution changes, the way you move, and walk will additionally change – these are things we can work with!
With the additional weight and growth of your belly, abdominal separation is also common (100% of women will experience this). Abdominal separation is where the tissue between your six-pack muscles begins to stretch. If you think you may be experiencing Abdominal Separation you can do a self test to confirm, here’s how. Due to the abdominal muscles changing, this can affect the strength of your abs and cause discomfort and fluctuations in pain. Additionally, we can have pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (for example: that little bit if urine leakage that all women say is normal) – actually is not considered normal.
A growing baby creates additional pressure, that pressure going downwards results in pelvic floor dysfunction which may cause those urinary symptoms such as leakage (incontinence), needing to go to the bathroom more frequently or the inability to control the urge.
Bladder and bowel control problems are common with more than 4 million Australians regularly experiencing leakage (incontinence). Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motions (faecal and bowel incontinence).
What are the common symptoms of back and hip pain during pregnancy?
The most common things you may experience with your back and hip pain during pregnancy are:
- Pain with prolonged walking or sitting
- Pins and needles down your legs
- Pain worsening at night especially during sleep
- Inability to lay on your side
Will the back pain get worse as my pregnancy progresses?
Low back pain with an onset prior to pregnancy can sometimes resolve or stay the same as your pregnancy progresses. Therefore. if you are trying to get pregnant, never let a past history of back pain stop you.
The current research does indicate that pelvis related pain with first onset during pregnancy appears to get worse especially following the 25-28th week.
What’s my feel good formula? (aka treatment options)
An assessment by our women’s health physiotherapist is the first step in taking action against your back pain. Every woman will experience a different type of pain throughout their pregnancy as everyone’s pregnancy journey is different. Therefore, a thorough assessment will be able to determine what your pattern of pain is like, what aggravates your pain, your individual biomechanics and anatomy and how this is affecting your pain.
Different things we may assess are:
- – Strength
- – Length of your muscles
- – Lumbar spine and hip mobility
- – Posture
- – Abdominal muscles
- – Pelvic floor
From this we will be able to develop a treatment plan which may include:
- – Trialling different compression and braces to support your pelvis and lumbar spine
- – Muscle release and relaxation techniques
- – Trigger point therapy techniques
- – Strengthening exercises for your hips and legs
- – Abdominal strengthening exercises to reduce abdominal separation
- – Activity modification strategies for getting in and out of bed/car
- – Taping to support or deload your muscles and joints
The main aspect of treatment is to continue being active, and we will be here to guide you to be active in the best way possible for your pain and to support your baby. It is highly recommended to be assessed by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to provide you with individualised treatment options and advice.
Click for more information on our Women’s Health Physiotherapy and Women’s Health Exercise Physiology services.
Article Written By: Laura Watt, Women’s Health Physiotherapist